Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Commuting Persistence

I was riding home from work.

It was late - It was dark - It was raining.

The visibility wasn't the best, but I was taking my time and actually enjoying the even slower than usual pace.  I was in no hurry.  I had no place to be.  I had no schedule to keep.  It was me - the bike - the darkness - the rain.  We weren't  in each others way.  No matter what else the world was doing at that moment - we were coexisting in harmony.

I approached a side street and noticed a car pulling up at that instant.  I instinctively tapped the brakes and it was a good thing I did.  It wasn't until my headlamp was shining bright in the drivers shocked face that she became aware of my presence.  It was too late, they had already pulled out.  If I had not slowed down and pulled slightly onto the street they recently vacated, their first inkling of my presence would have been me sliding, none too gracefully I'm sure, across their hood.

Commuting on a bike is dangerous business.  I don't do it cause I like flirting with danger.  I do it cause I like riding.  I take every possible precaution to minimize my risk.  I obey the law.  I wear bright clothing.  I avoid main thoroughfares.  My bike is lit up like a Christmas tree.  I ride defensively.  I like to think that these things reduce my risk.  The operative word is "reduce".  Yet despite my due diligence, there are times when the unexpected happens.  This night I was ready.

Tomorrow morning, despite the close call, I will once again straddle my bike and pedal away.  Given the danger, why do I persist in riding?  The answer is quite simple really - The alternative is something I cannot and will not brook!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Roaring Wind

 I first heard it as I regained consciousness from a sound night's sleep.  I thought the nearby Air Force base was flying training runs in the early hours.  It wasn't until I drug myself out of bed and stumbled to the coffee pot that the true source of the sound manifested it's way into my brain.  As the coffee brewed, I leaned against the counter and, in my groggy mind, hoped it would be a tailwind. 

It was still quite dark as I slung a leg over my bike and pushed off for my morning commute.  As I rode through the neighborhoods making my way to the gym, the presence of the wind made itself eerily known.  It was too dark to see it blowing the trees about.  I was sheltered by the houses and could not feel it.  But the sound - oh the sound.  It was veritable roar as it rushed overhead.  It sounded like the echo of an angry giant.  I cringed and pedaled on.  Hoping to escape its notice.

When I left the gym, daylight was starting to dawn.  I stopped a moment to gaze upon the James River and the tempest into which it had been thrown.  In the daylight, I no longer feared it, but instead was simply grateful it was to my back.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Commuting Pearl of Wisdom #1 - Intro

I have been commuting back and forth to work for more than 20 years.  During that time, through trial and error, crook and brook, school of hard knocks, bumps and bruises - I've managed to pick up a thing or two.  With that being said, I thought it would be a prudent and selfless act on my part to publish, for world, wide consumption, some of my "Commuting Pearls of Wisdom".

To that end, I will be imparting to you, on a, hopefully, regular basis, various commuting tips that I've picked up over the years.  We'll be talking bikes, gear, clothing, riding techniques, preparation and the Lord only knows what other topics my twisted mind may come up with.

So stay tuned!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Dark And Stormy Night and cold too

 I don t mind riding in the dark.

I don't mind riding in the rain.

I don't mind riding in the cold.

You combine all 3 and it makes for a memorable commute that I'd just as soon forget.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year Plans

The holiday season has zoomed past in a blur and I am out of the starting blocks of the New Year in a full out sprint.  My mind is already churning out plans for my adventures in 2012.  I thought I'd let you in on them so you could know what to look forward to in the coming year.

In past years, my cycling season revolved around one major, week long bike tour.  This year, I'm gonna try something, not just a little, but a lot different.  

- Instead of a single, full week, I'm going to break my adventures into not less than five - 4 day weekends.  By combining vacation, with flex time, I'm figuring I can up my days of adventure from  7 days to 20 days without using any additional vacation.

- Instead of solely bike touring, I'm going to diversify my mode of personal transport.  The below pic is what Santa Clause brought me for a Christmas...

Now - before you go off donning sackcloth and smearing ashes upon your forehead, let me assure you, I am not walking away from the bike.  There are still many more miles to ride in my legs and many more stories to be told.   I am simply endeavoring to diversify.  At a high level this is what I'm tentatively planning:

Weekend 1 - 4 day bike tour

Weekend 2 - 4 day hike

Weekend 3 - 4 day bike tour

Weekend 4 - 4 day kayaking trip

Weekend 5 - 4 day hike

At this point I don't know where or when, but you can rest assured that I will be sure to keep you in the loop as plans develop.

I realize that this blog is about bikes and I plan to keep it that way.  But, as vain as it sounds, it is also about me.  I will use it as a forum to also bring you, hopefully interesting tales of all my upcoming adventures whether they be on two wheels whirling, two legs walking or two arms paddling.